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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  November 12, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EST

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sydney. >> that is our report for this hour. we leave you with just a gorgeous shot of the great island of manhattan looking to the south. the sun is setting on this beautiful night in new york city. i'm david shuster. thanks for watching. >> china pledges to join the flight against climate change. that's big and new, but carbon emissions won't go down unti until 2030. is that really progress? that's the inside story. >> hi, i'm lisa fletcher. for years and years while the world worries what to do about
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climate change. everyone points their fingers at china. why should we do anything because china is not doing anything. but the agreement between supplement and china as president obama wrapped up his visit to beijing at the very least changes the optics. will this spur the world to action? have the u.s. and china overpromised welcome politics here are in play. what about china. can it deliver, and does it intend to. we're focusing on the realities and mechanics inside the deal. >> the two worst-polluting nations on earth shook on an historic deal pledging to do more to dramatically cut down on carbon emissions over the next 20 years. >> this is an ambitious goal, but it is an a chiefible goal. >> the u.s. greed to cut back its emissions by a quarter by the year 2025 compared to 2005 levels. china's president made an unprecedented promise to peak
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his country's commissions by 2030 or sooner. >> we have agreed to promote international negotiations on climate change and attain an agreement in paris. then deepen substantial cooperation in the field of clean energy and areas of environmental protection. >> although china's smog and soot is sometimes so bad that it closes down cities and towns the government has been he is tonight to tush carbon emissions as the continue continues to rapidly grow. >> i commend the president and chinese government for the commitment they're making to slow, peak, and then reverse china's emissions. >> but not everyone back in the u.s. is celebrating. congressional republicans warn this deal sets up an impossible feat for america's next president. to hold to today's pledge, the u.s. will need to move at twice
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the speed. it's something that the president thinks he can do without congress. >> i was particularly distressed about the deal. i read the agreement requires the chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years. while these carbon emission regulations create havoc in my state and other states around the country. >> others see it as a break-through trip for both leaders. china negotiating with president obama. at apec wrap up press conference the president even took questions from reporters but held the line on china's domestic issues. >> i think it goes without saying that law and order must be maintained according to law in any place, not just in hong kong, buts wills elsewhere in the world. >> still the accords obama reached were nort noteworthy.
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the pathway for a potentially cleaner earth. >> no one is going to say followin following this trip that u.s. and china are best friends, and later in the program we'll talk about what the accomplishments mean for the economic relations between our two countries. but first we'll dig into the details of what's hailed as an historic agreement of climate change. joining us a schola, our guests. thank you to all of you for joining us. derek, this agreement has certainly made headlines. but does it have taken teeth? is it as significant as it's being made out to be? >> no it's not. it's pretty much what is happening any way. the u.s. emissions have been dropping nine years now partly due to weak economy. china's emissions have started to drop.
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or their growth has started to drop, and that's due to weak chinese economy. the president has gotten together to ratify what was happening any way. >> erik, if it does mean something maybe, maybe something good is going to come out of this just on the basis of what the agreement is about, does it mean anything if it's not binding? if it's just a handshake feel that we might get to this, we might not? >> that's the question. this is a non-binding agreement between china and the united states. we have the international negotiations with paris in 2015 as being the big destination point. and what this does do it provides some political momentum for those negotiations. even though united states and china would prefer not to have a binding agreement out of paris. they want to have these voluntary agreement where they self monitor each other and they ignore the science of climate change when they sign these agreements any way.
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>> china is addicted to cheap energy. they're addicted to coal. it has escalated them to the number two spot economically on the globe. why would they agree to this, and why would they agree to it now? >> well, i think first of all the environment has become one of the most serious issues for the chinese public and the chinese leadership. for apec the meeting they had to shut down a lot of factories limit traffic on the road just to bring about a few blue skies. because even the president joked that he wanted those apec blue skies to stay, but he also recognized that they might not. so in that sense he is under a lot of pressure to make sure that the environment continues to--there are efforts made to improve the environment. and the climate change relates to the environment in many ways, and it's a very important consideration. as public pressures go, the
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leadership has been talking about the need for environment protection, alsos for climate change. in that sense all of of this continues to the growing discourse with china about limiting-- >> i'm sorry to interrupt but you said something interesting. talk a limb bit about that, the influence that the public is having. are they tired of dirty air and dirty water. the influence that perhaps the media is having? we've heard they are of they've been more aggressive than usual on this topic. >> absolutely. well, the interesting issue is that the chinese is strongly in favor of the government's development side. but increasingly our opinions attitudes and numbers increasingly show the chinese have become less happy. they're concerned about the
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issues of food safety, air quality and water safety. they're very concerned with the quality of life issues. we want to do something to show that we care. when it comes to the air everyone can see, smell and over time we have to doing iser certaicertain things. the chinese and other micro blogging services have been reasonbly opened on issues of the environment as well. >> i think actually--i agree with everything that the professor just said but the key word was tangentially. yes, china cares about water pollution, and the chinese people care about air quality and toxicity and land. and cancer rates and those are important environmental issues. none of those are carbon emissions. china has massive environmental challenges ahead of it, those
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all will take priority over carbon. the reason why you make these vague, not interesting commitments on carbon because you want to reduce coal for other reasons, and carbon emissions will happen to be capped as a result. i agree with everything that the professor just said, but that all points to china into the emphasizing carbon emissions not that this is an historic break through. >> your point that the chinese caring about all of these issues. the reason the skies were clear was because they shut down factories and took half the cars and forbid them from being on the road. ihow much do they really care if these are the measures they go to appear to make things look good or if a million people are dying let's not forget there is mastiff control over behalfing and pollution, and i think what
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we'll see is that pollution ends up being a destabilizing impact on society. and whether it's carbon emissions or eliminating measure curry or cleaning up the air the chinese government is really concerned with what is going on on the ground that destabilizes society. i would add one additional point. china is worried about its international image. china received a lot of international criticism wrongfully. i think the united states was largely at fault for what happened in copenhagen, but they're very aware of their international role and want to preserve that role seen as a leader, at least not seen at a lagger when it comes to these negotiations. >> we'll take a break. when you are as big as china, 20% of anything is a huge number. we'll put it all in perspective. this is inside story.
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>> welcome back to inside story. we're talking about china joining the fight against climate change. china is pledging to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and then reducing. by that point 20% of its energy production will be from clean sources. how significant is that? to put it in perspective, china's 20% equals more power than what comes from all the coal power plants that exists
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today, and the united states. is it possible for china to achieve that 20%. >> i think it's a function of money and commitment. it's really how much is the chinese government willing to invest in transforming its economy? >> what kind of infrastructure are we talking about? >> this is massive. it's not something that we've seen. it's changing from the stone age to the bronze age. it's the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel age. >> i disagree with that. hydropower is clean. if you take hydro,nuke, wind, solar, chinese are about 15% now. to get those big numbers the white house is talking about, you have to project massive increases of chinese consumption. if you get those then it's a big challenge and then you have a huge amount of coal even though
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the coal share is declining. if china continues its path of economic growth, and you get to zero percent of emission sources you'll have a huge amount of coal use. if they slow down. this is. >> if coal is declining they're still building coal-powered plant. how can you say that you're committed to a clean energy future. >> we have renewables. we're exporting oh fossil fuels, coal, shale gas. the united states is also caught in this game when it comes to climate change. we're projecting we'll do something, 26% to 28% reductions. yet look at our policies we're exporting more fossil fuels we're debating the keystone pipeline and oil exports, the u.s. is guilty of the same game as what the chinese government
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is. >> do you think the chinese government can meet these goals? >> i think there are several aspects of the chinese government project tore. there is going to be a shift in the industrial structure. that shift alone, along with the compensation of energy use over time. secondly i traveled over china. there are wind mill farms, it is extraordinary is to see what is happening with solar and wind power. and also on this shape the present, there are deliveries of gas to china, the mix of energy use, and we have the ability of national gas as well.
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and china itself is developing shale. so china is exploring. what's interesting is this year coal prices have dramatically increased in china, yet coal use may be for the first time declining in china in absolute amounts. that's substantial. >> let switch a little bit and talk about what it will take for the u.s. to meet the goals that the u.s. has set. mitch mcconnell is saying that you've saddled the president with unrealistic numbers of coal and it will cost jobs. >> the agreement that president obama struck is basically business as usual. i don't think the airportal protection agency has to do much more to get to that 26% reduction. >> don't they have to double the speed with which we're reducing our carbon emissions
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between 2020 and 2025 to make that goal? >> we're on the pathway when it comes to the vehicle fuel economy standards. they're talking about the increase of those over the next five years. that's still being drafted right now. the new power plant rule. there is a methane gas rule. and if you roll up all these rules together, it's a lot of rules, and i think derek would say a lot of regulation, but it's getting at the sources of climate change which puts us on that trajectory. it was very interesting where there was a blog post off the white house saying we're using existing executive authority to achieve these reductions which means they feel they have the authority within the environmental protection agency and elsewhere to get to that 26% and 28% without stretching. what would be challenging is if the president took this opportunity to go even further than what we've committed with china in this agreement. if you look at all the numbers. the chinese commitment, the u.s.
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commitment still means that we're going to fail to reduce global warming levels to what is required to avoid a 2 degrees sent grat centigrade increase where scientists say bad things will happen. >> it can be stopped through legislation, what do you predict will happen? >> i really begin think this is a wet firecracker. if you get a decent shale video where shale production continues to expand during this time period, which is entirely reasonable, at the pace that consensus expectations, the energy information administration, you're going to get this done from shale subbing out for coal. i don't think that senator mcconnell ate job loss are warranted. i don't think the claims of drastic epa regulation is necessary. if the government is going to interview in gas production in some way, then you have a
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different story. i think both of us see this as not a big of deal. >> two guys who normally agree are agreeing on this. when we come back we'll look at two power players on the u.s. and china. it was a historic week in many ways. we'll talk about that in a moment. stay with us.
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>> you're watching inside story on al jazeera america. i'm lisa fletcher. we're looking at what many are calling the historic climate agreement between china and the united states this time on the program. now we want to go inside the u.s.-china relationship. president obama and china's president toasted each other at the end of an unexpectbly productive state visit. you would not know that these two nations are rivals on the world stage. they created deals with
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potentially huge implications. president obama said a strong cooperative relationship with china was key. meanwhile, the president has driven his country hard since becoming leader two years ago pushing rapid development and economic growth while engaging in territorial disputes with neighbors like japan. where does china see itself, it's future and how might its relationship with the u.s. shape that vision? still with us, professor of political science at the university of chicago, and with me on set, senior fellow at the brookings institute. thanks for being here. >> a pleasure to be here. >> the trip yielded a number of things, the visa agreement, lower tariffs between the two countries. what could this mean moving forward in terms of the relationship between the two countries. >> i think the headline on this visit is the climate agreement despite the conversation you had with the other two guests.
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as you look at ten years ago at the agreements reached on this visit, the only one that rises to the potentially to the level of being historic really marking a turning point as we move forward on major global issue is climate agreements. the other agreements are significant but not dramatic. we've been discussing these for a while. it's good that we have an agreement in principle. they still have to fill in the blanks, but that's a good development. the agreement on information technology reduction of tariffs across the technology world. good thing if we get the wto to agree with it, and i suspect they will. there were constructive elaborations of a relationship that had gotten very scratchy.
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that's one of the reasons why you have these kinds of summits. everyone focuses on what can we do to set things back on a better path. especially in the wake of midterm elections in the u.s. and president obama is heading in his last two years in office. i would argue that it was better than expected, but it was not dramatic with the sole potential to the climate agreement. >> what are is your take with the broader implications of the u.s. relationship with china. >> i probably share what the professor just mentioned, but i'm a little more optimistic with this. first of all, expectations going into the summit was so low. as a result the issues, they were taken more as increasing developments. of course, the previous developments between the two countries. they have tended to look at the negative side of this
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relationship and have forgotten how hard the two countries are working and this summit, meeting actually underscored how much the two countries are working together on various common challenges facing the two countries also more globally, and really accentuates and under scores the importance of this relationship, not only for the two countries but more globally. >> ken, the u.s. and china they have always had very strong commercial ties. that was something that was underscored again with the president's visit. is there anything that happens on this visit that would indicate that he's making progress oneringl on? issues that had been touch points that had been sort of untouchable?
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>> i think the progress on those issues, human rights, there was not real progress. on cyber spying i would argue that there was no real progress. what they did agree to is to increase corporation on terrorism and various measures and intelligence sharing and financial measures and others to try to contain the terrorism problem. i think there was progress on that. there was a reaffirmation of very important things. working together on the iran nuclear issue. there were big decisions to be made later this month, and issues that we're anxious to have the chinese stick with us. we're continuing to agree on measures on ebola in africa and bringing electricity to communities in africa. there are a variety of things that are global issues or regional issues of importance elsewhere. we either reaffirmed or marginally increased our level of corporation. those are all good things.
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but i think that there was nothing that was game changing in any of those areas. >> while there might not have been anything that was definitively game changing, what about in terms of the relationship building that is happening here between the president of china and the president of united states on a global stage. what do you predict that influence to be moving forward? >> well, i think the summit really reset a little bit of the relationship underscoring the collaborative aspect of this relationship, and we also need to keep in mind that this needs to be considered together with a little bit of rewarming of the relationship of china and japan. there will be meetings the next day also. i think all together for china there is very little interesting reset in terms of trying
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maintain the positive aspects. we may say that the initial consolidation phase of the president is mostly behind, he's so sure now that he can relax a little bit and step back fro in terms of pushing for territorial issues and trying to stabilize and result in other issues well. >> much prize for the presidents of china and the u.s. but what is the source of conflict out of this deal? >> i think we're still at a point, first of all, i agree very much with professor yang. this improved the tone and dynamic of the relationship. this is one of the reasons why you have these summits, to get things moving in an it istive direction and look at what 9
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benefits of the relationship are. when you look tat concretely there is nothing that has moved the ball forward. the treaty issue, which is a very important potentially very important bilateral economic matter for us. they agree to work on this to speed it up. but we're going to see in the next few months whether that becomes feasible to do within the time frame left of the political calendar on our side. >> that will do it for us thank you to our guests. we'll see you next time. >> coming up at 6:00 p.m. 300million miles from earth scientists and engineers pull off an historic landing. the first spacecraft to touchdown on the surface of a comet.
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and thousands of nurses have walked off the job today. and this is day one of the lame duck session of congress. we'll hear from a congressman with that and more coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern. phil torres >> this is "techknow," a show of invo vasions that can save lives, we'll explore the intersection of hart ware and huge -- hardware and humanity. let's check out the team. marita davison is specialising in ecology. tonight, what are the scientists at monsanta up to. we go into their lab. are they moving away from
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